Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams is the album that should have followed 2011’s Mylo Xyloto. It has a similar feel, a similar message, and continues the same musical direction. The album is a welcome change from last year’s break-up record Ghost Stories, and will surely please crowds on next year’s world tour. But even despite this, it is the slower songs more traditionally associated with Coldplay that stand out.
Openers ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ and ‘Birds’ are upbeat, with optimistic messages mixed in with obligatory ‘woah-oh-oh’ moments that have come to be expected in Coldplay tracks. Following these is the pop-influenced ‘Hymn For The Weekend’, with Beyoncé featuring as a vocalist. In a similar way that 2011 single ‘Princess of China’ featured Rihanna, the song itself perhaps sacrifices a ‘traditional’ Coldplay style to attract an artist of the calibre of Beyoncé, in order to achieve a high chart position – a feat it will undoubtedly achieve.
To contrast ‘Hymn for the Weekend’, slower offerings ‘Everglow’ and later ‘Amazing Day’ are a return to Coldplay’s earlier ballads, such as ‘The Scientist’ and ‘Yellow’. Chris Martin describes ‘Everglow’ as the positive feelings and reflection that come after the ending of a relationship, and it even features vocals from ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow. ‘Amazing Day’ simply reflects its title, while ‘Fun’ is a solid album track featuring Swedish singer Tove Lo that continues the album’s reflection on relationships.
Uplifting single ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ possibly refers to Martin’s relationship with Jennifer Lawrence, as lyrics include ‘you make me feel like I’m alive again’. This, along with final track ‘Up&Up’, naturally lends itself to being performed in a stadium, and includes another singalong ending. ‘Up&Up’ is another example of Coldplay’s stature within the musical world – not content with securing Beyoncé’s vocals, this song features guitar from none other than Oasis’ Noel Gallagher.
Letting the album down is the downright odd ‘Kaleidoscope’, featuring a sample of President Obama singing ‘Amazing Grace’ (yes, really). Following that is the average ‘Army of One’, which would maybe feel more at home in a Justin Bieber or One Direction album.
If A Head Full of Dreams is anything to go by, Chris Martin has finally recovered from his infamous “conscious uncoupling”. Last year’s low key record Ghost Stories was clearly influenced by Martin’s break-up, but he and Coldplay have returned with an uplifting and positive record that he claims is “the completion of something”. If this is indeed the final offering from Coldplay, they’ve produced an enjoyable record that epitomises them as a band – looking to the future, while referencing the past.
This review was originally published on Forge Press: Album Review – A Head Full Of Dreams